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blueberry/coconut/macadamia muffins

December 10th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

For starters, there are WAY too many vowels in this muffin description!!

But they are worth every twisted tongue and exhaustible explanation because they are fragrant, tropical and fabulous.

About a month ago I was contacted by a company called Oh! Nuts! and asked if I wanted some products to use for my holiday baking. I’d done some business with Oh! Nuts! before and was really pleased with the quality and freshness of their bulk nuts and dried fruits. Oh! Nuts! has a lot of attractive gift options for holiday giving, as well as fresh nuts, dried fruits, candy and other items for year-round baking. I highly recommend their products and can personally vouch for the quality. I was more than happy to have another chance to use some of their items.

For my personal use this time around, I requested Macadamia Nuts and Calymyrna Figs, and within a week, they landed on my doorstep. The figs are gigantic and sweet with a soft bite, and the macadamia nuts are perfectly tender and moist. I’ve been just tickled with both products and decided that before I gobble them all up in my adoration, I would at least make an attempt to bake something with them. It isn’t often you get a world class nut like macadamia gracing your pantry.

This muffin recipe has been hanging around my kitchen for some time now; originally it’s from the Fall 2006 issue of Eating Well magazine. And in a current frenzy through the recipe stack threatening to take over it’s designated drawer, I serendipitously came across it, magically having everything on hand to whisk up a batch of these to make a sunny, yet chilly December day feel a bit more cozy.

The recipe itself is without a great deal of fat or sugar, thankfully. But the muffin doesn’t suffer in the loss of theses tasty ingredients. They burst with blueberry taste, crunchy bits of chopped macadamia nuts and a hearty, nutty crumb that is moist but not at all cake like. If it’s supposed to be a muffin, I want a muffin, not a cupcake disguised as something else. With it’s crunchy streusel-like topping and tender fruit, this will be a repeat in my kitchen, a perfect means to use the frozen berries in my freezer, and to draw more warmth to our frozen landscape.

Blueberry Coconut Macadamia Nut Muffins

1/4 c. unsweetened flake coconut
3/4 c. + 2 T. AP flour (divided)
1/2 c. + 2 T. packed brown sugar (divided)
1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts
3 T. good quality olive oil
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. ground flaxseed
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/8 t. sea salt
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 c. skim milk
2 T. plain or vanilla lowfat yogurt
1 t. lemon extract (can sub vanilla, or coconut as well)
1-1/2 c. fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Heat your oven to 400°. Line two six-cup muffin tins with papers. Alternately, spray the muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the coconut with 2 Tablespoons each of AP flour and brown sugar with 2 Tablespoons of the chopped macadamia nuts. Drizzle this with one Tablespoon of the olive oil and stir to combine. Set aside for muffin topping.

Whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup of AP flour, the whole wheat flour, flaxseed, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon until well combined. In a large measuring cup, whisk the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the egg and egg white, skim milk, yogurt and extract until smooth. Make a well in the dry ingredients and whisk in the wet until only just mixed. Add the blueberries, and the remaining macadamia nuts and carefully fold in until blended.

Spoon batter equally in to the muffin tins, then sprinkle a bit of the reserved coconut topping on each muffin. Press gently in to the batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in muffin pans for 15 minutes, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely.


Original recipe from Eating Well magazine; posted here with heavy modifications.

Oh! Nuts! provided me with both the macadamia nuts and the calymyrna figs free of charge
and without expectation of any reciprocal endorsement. Everything stated in this post are
my own thoughts and are freely expressed. 

Pillsbury 'Simply' Refrigerated Cookie Dough

August 11th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

I always love the free product offers that come my way due to this food blog, but the fact is, I turn down way more of them than I actually accept, mostly because the product offered just isn’t one that I would use.

This cookie dough from Pillsbury, however, is one of those that had me firmly on the fence. I decided that it would be worth a least a respectable glance, and you certainly can’t argue with ‘Free’.

Pillsbury Simply cookie dough 001

I grew up with scratch cookies that my Mom made. We never ate anything store-bought, and even now I rarely, if ever, buy store cookies. In keeping the right kinds of ingredients on hand, I can have a batch of warm cookies in about a half hour, and I know I don’t even have to tell you a thing about the superior flavor of a home-baked cookie. But this product did intrigue me because it claimed to be nothing more than your basic cookie dough- no additives, preservatives or funny chemicals that you can taste even through the glass of milk that you drink to wash down your warm cookie.

And Pillsbury delivers on that. The ingredient list reads like any recipe should- flour, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt….your basic mix. The cookies come in two flavors- Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip and I was sent two free vouchers, plus some really nice, sturdy canvas bags and a full informative press kit. My local grocer had the cookie dough on sale as well- two packages for $5.00, with each package containing 12 pucks. I bought four, essentially getting half for free.

I baked a package of each cookie right away. The day was a bit warm and the dough sat out on the counter for maybe 10 minutes before I placed the pucks on sheets and they had become quite soft.  The cookies were pretty flavorful but I detected an off flavor in the chocolate chip version, owing to what I think is an inferior chip. They aren’t bad, but when you’re used to Guittard or Ghiradhelli chips in your cookies, anything else can seem pretty bland. I did, however, really like the peanut butter cookie. I’ve always enjoyed a good peanut butter cookie but tend to be put off by the usual grainy or chalky texture they tend to have; this one had none of that, just good clean peanut butter taste.

I wouldn’t buy these for home use, but they would be a really good option for us to have on hand at our lake home for a quick treat. They’re simple to use and bake, and keep in the freezer for up to 60 days.  Price-wise, even at $2.50 per package I think it’s too expensive, coming out to be $0.21 per cookie. You can make them from scratch for pennies. The product is geared towards your everyday ‘Busy Mom’ who wants to offer home-baked taste without a fuss. As fas as pre-made products go, these are a very good option that you can feel good about serving, really the nicest and most flavorful of any pre-made cookie dough I’ve had and that’s fine if it’s your thing, but it isn’t mine. I’m happy to tell others about it though!